In today’s dating landscape, singles prioritize a myriad of qualities when seeking a partner, ranging from personality traits and shared values to educational background and financial stability.

In June, Intelligent.com surveyed 936 U.S. singles to better understand the current dating landscape and to explore the role of education as a criterion in dating.

What we found:

  • Women are nearly 3x more likely as men to say they’re unwilling to date someone less educated (21% vs. 8%)
  • Women are nearly 4x more likely to say they don’t want to date a partner who earns less than them (25% vs. 7%)
  • Men are more likely to feel rejected in dating due to their education, income, or job
  • 41% of women say dating has negatively impacted their mental health, as do 33% of men
  • 4 in 10 singles are hopeless about their dating prospects
  • 37% of singles fear they are single because something is wrong with them

21% of Women Don’t Want to Date Less Educated Partners

Women exhibit greater unwillingness to date partners with lower education or income levels, whereas men tend to be more flexible in these areas.

When it comes to dating someone less educated, 21% of women are unwilling compared to 8% of men. In terms of dating someone without a college degree, 14% of women are unwilling versus 10% of men.

Regarding income, 25% of women are unwilling to date someone who earns less, compared to 7% of men. On the other hand, men are slightly more likely to be unwilling to date someone who earns more than them (4% vs. 3%).

Women more likely to value education, income level in partner

Men and women consider a number of factors important in a partner.

For education level, 63% of women and 53% of men consider it important or very important. Similarly, 67% of women and 45% of men find income level important.

Intelligence is highly valued by both genders, with 91% of women and 85% of men considering it important or very important.

Additionally, kindness, being family-oriented, and having a sense of humor are also highly valued by both men and women.

“As a family law attorney, I see how income and education level affect dating preferences and relationship dynamics every day,” says Family Law Attorney Janet Gemmell. “Many of my female clients do prefer partners with financial stability, seeing it as a sign of responsibility and security. However, a person’s character, shared values, and life goals are far more important for relationship success.

“Both men and women face pressures to judge potential partners on income, status, and unrealistic societal standards. But in my experience, the most fulfilling relationships are built on what’s inside – a person’s heart, mind and spirit.

“The challenges of modern dating come from making assumptions and placing unrealistic expectations on partners. The keys to overcoming these are self-acceptance, open communication, and seeking genuine emotional and intellectual connections and not checking boxes.” Focusing on what really matters will lead to healthier, happier relationships for all.”

Desire to have deep, meaningful conversations tops reasons value is placed on education level

Overall, respondents place value on education because it enables deep and meaningful conversations (55%). Similarly, 51% feel it reflects similar values and long-term goals, and 50% believe it helps in understanding each other’s perspectives better.

About 48% consider education indicative of a commitment to personal growth and development. Furthermore, 41% of respondents associate higher education with better job prospects and financial security. For 28%, education can influence their social circle and lifestyle.

Additionally, 44% of respondents want to provide a good educational environment for their future children, while 26% see education as aligning with their cultural or familial expectations.

6 in 10 Men Feel Rejected or Less Desirable Due to Their Income Level

Overall, while both men and women encounter feelings of rejection related to education, income, and job in dating, men tend to feel more affected by their income level compared to women.

In dating contexts, 32% of men report feeling rejected or less desirable due to their education level, compared to 31% of women who share this sentiment.

Concerning income level, 54% of men feel rejected or less desirable, whereas 43% of women report similar feelings. Similarly, regarding their job, 44% of men have felt rejected, whereas 36% of women have experienced similar sentiments.

“I’ve seen many high-earning men struggle with feelings of inadequacy in dating. A person’s worth has nothing to do with their income or career. Healthy relationships are built on mutual understanding, trust and respect, not superficial attributes,” says Gemmell.

Nearly Half of Singles Are Hopeless About Their Dating Prospects

Overall, a significant portion of singles—44%—report feeling hopeless about their dating prospects, with women slightly more likely than men to feel this way (47% vs. 41%). More than half (62%) are definitely (19%) or somewhat (43%) considering settling,

Moreover, feelings of loneliness are prevalent among both genders, with 64% of women and 62% of men expressing this sentiment.

Interestingly, an equal percentage of both men and women—37%—feel a sense of personal inadequacy due to being without a partner.

Furthermore, a substantial number of women (41%) indicate that dating has had a detrimental effect on their mental health, a sentiment echoed by 33% of men.

4 in 10 Singles Are Considering Returning to School to Meet Romantic Partners

In response to whether they would consider going back to school to meet new potential romantic partners, 36% of respondents indicated they definitely would (11%) or probably would (25%).

Regarding changing jobs for similar reasons, 55% of respondents are contemplating it, with 21% definitely considering and 33% probably considering such a change.

Methodology

All data found within this report derives from a survey commissioned by Intelligent.com. The survey launched June 2024 via Pollfish. In total, 936 U.S.-based singles were surveyed.

To take the survey, respondents had to pass through a screening process, indicating they are currently single and seeking a long-term relationship.

For more information contact [email protected].